Ste kdaj želeli kaj napisati, pa niste vedeli, kje in kako začeti? V tokratni objavi vam ekipa Zvitice razkriva nekaj napotkov, kako pisati (sicer v angleščini), za katere verjamemo, da vam lahko v prihodnosti pri vašem pisnem izražanju zelo pomagajo. Članek je napisan v angleščini, ker, kot prvo, smo v študentsko glasilo želeli vključiti dodatno izobraževanje v tujem jeziku, kot drugo, pa je to (skorajda) drugi materni jezik avtorice prispevka, študentke anglistike in koreanistike Pie Zevnik.

How to write in English?

The first thing to be done before writing any kind of text is preparation. To better understand this I have prepared short checklist of things to consider before writing.

  1. Time

It’s best to know when you are the most productive. Some people get most of their work done in the mornings or afternoons and some people are most productive after nightfall. When you have discovered what the best time is for you, we can move on to place selection. It’s also good to have a lot of time when writing, so as to not feel overly pressured over the lack of time, because the work that gets done when pressed for time tends to not be very good work.

  1. Place

Writing can essentially be done anywhere, but some places tend to be more appropriate for certain people. If you need complete silence in order to concentrate properly, then writing at home where you can control your surroundings is advisable. Others, who need some background noise, can achieve that with listening to music or maybe taking all your writing necessities (ex. a notebook, some pens and pencils, a computer, a dictionary maybe) to a café, where you can settle down with a warm cup of tea or coffee and the sounds of the café acting as your background noise.

  1. Materials

Do we have everything we might need with us or at least in reach? The most basic necessities, as already mentioned in the previous paragraph, are a notebook and some pens, pencils and whatnot, if you are the old-school type and like writing by hand and a computer for those of us who cannot read our own handwriting. Writing a text on a computer also makes it easier for us to send the text to someone to read it over for us. Dictionaries also fall under this category, although if you are writing by means of a computer, everything one may need is just a click away.

  1. Draft

To make writing easier we first create a draft of what we want to write about. If we are writing a formal text then there is a prescribed format which we must adhere to (more about this next time). Still a draft is a good idea in every case. Here we write down some of the most important points we want to mention in the text. Maybe a sentence or two we wish to use. Keep it short and simple and remember that a draft is meant to help you decide which information is important enough to be in the final text.

  1. Let’s start writing!

Now that we have our draft ready and all set out, we can begin writing. While writing we need to be conscious of some very important things. First of them is grammar. Now grammar might sound a bit scary but in its core it is only the way in which words are put together into proper sentences. There are some important grammatical rules we must comply with no matter the type of text. These are the usage of a/an and the. a/an are indefinite articles. They are used when something is mentioned in the text for the first time, while the definite article the is used after the object we are talking about has already been mentioned in the text. The indefinite an is used with words starting with vowels – a, e, i, o, u and the silent h (as in honest – an honest man), while the indefinite a is used with all others.

Something to also be careful of is spelling. There are different ways to spell certain words, depending on which variation – or version – of the English language you write in. For example some words, which end in –our in British English, like colour or flavour, are spelled with –or in American English, giving us color and flavor. There are sometimes also different words for the same thing in the two versions. One such example would be the American elevator vs. the British lift. When uncertain, it is best to check how a word is spelled or which word is used in which version in a dictionary. Thankfully, in this modern era of digitalization most of the dictionaries are available online. I would recommend using the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English or perhaps the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Contemporary English. Both versions are accessible online and are quite reliable where spelling is concerned. They also provide the user with the English explanation of the word and give examples of how the word is used in a sentence.

When writing in English, whether an essay, a formal letter/e-mail, maybe writing your own book, we have to look out for something called ‘common mistakes’. These are mistakes, which occur when we try to implement Slovenian grammar rules into English. Most often than not these mistakes are limited to the usage of incorrect prepositions – for example, in Slovene we say Na mapi, while the English Equivalent is not On the map, but rather In the map. This may seem strange to us, because we are so used to certain words being together, something called a conjunction in English, that we are surprised to see them in a different way in English. The best way to avoid this is yet again to make use of a dictionary, or better yet, to read a lot. Pick up a book, a newspaper, an article somewhere on the Internet, even switching the pre-set language on any kind of mobile apps to English can help us with this. By doing this we see many of these conjunctions and over time we get used to them and even remember them so that they can be used without thinking about it. Reading in English also helps us build our vocabulary, meaning we learn new words and see where and how they are best used.

Another important point in writing is style. While it may be true that each one of us has their own peculiar style of writing, there are some general rules, which should be followed by us all, no matter our preferences. One of them is the length of sentences. The English tend to use shorter sentences than us Slovenes do. Reading this article you may have noticed that I tend to use longer and more complex sentences. I myself face this problem every time I write something in English. I like using long sentences and I do not always even see that I am writing this way until someone points it out. All in all, long sentences are okay to use, but they should not be too long otherwise it seems as though we, the writers, cannot really get to the point of what we are saying. Another thing connected to longer sentences are grammatical mistakes, which can occur in them. To connect more information in a single sentence we must use commas, the placement of which is thankfully less complicated than it is in Slovene, but still something we must be conscious of. Commas are used, other than the obvious listing of many things, to separate information. In English the clauses that start with which/who/that/whom/whose are divided into two categories: defining and non-defining clauses. They most often come after the noun they are describing and can either be precede by a comma or not. Defining clauses contain important information and are not precede by a comma, while non-defining clauses still carry some information but that information is not needed for us to understand the whole sentence and can actually be left out without any major changes occurring in the meaning of the whole sentence.

Words, such as however, nonetheless, on the one/on the other hand etc., are also good to know and help the reader understand our text more. They are most often than not placed at the start of a sentence and act as introductory words.

  1. Checking

Once we have finished writing we need to check over what we have written. If we are using a computer there are already many programs which check our spelling and any grammatical mistakes. But these programs cannot evaluate our style and how comprehensive (understandable) our text is. For that we need a human component. If you have a friend who knows English very well you can send your text to them and they can check it for you. Or if maybe you have a friend whose native language is English then they would be the best suited person for proofreading your work.

  1. The end

Now that all is done, we just need to hand our work in. Our work has come to an end and we are ready to have our text checked by a teacher, if the assignment we had was for school, or published somewhere, if we wrote an article and many more. I hope, that this checklist has helped you write a better text and maybe even taught you something.

Slovarček:

To be (under) pressure – biti obremenjen

Tend to be – nagibati se k nečemu

Adhere to – upoštevati nekaj

Grammar – slovnica

Comply with – upoštevati, podrejati se

Reliable – zanesljivo

(in)Conjunction – v povezavi s/z

Vocabulary – besedišče

Peculiar – nenavadno

Introductory words – uvodne/začetne besede

Evaluate – ocenjevati, vrednotiti

Proofreading – korektura; poprava besedila, če je le-ta potrebna

Do naslednjega tedna,

Uredništvo Zvitice